Keeping the Sabbath at home.

Recipe for how to keep the Sabbath at home: intention, exercise, silence, and tea. You don’t have to go to a retreat to have the benefits of going to a retreat. You can have this at home.

For me, part of it is that I go to the YMCA first and exercise. I suspect any exercise would be good, anywhere. Going for a walk and admiring God’s creation even if it is just walking around your neighborhood is always good. Get some sunlight and fresh air, and strengthen the temple that is your body. As for me, I like going to the YMCA because it is one of the few public places where I can talk about God with like-minded people. I get to strengthen my faith as well as my body.

When I get home, I try to commit to using no electronic devices – no TV, computers, tablets, Kindle, smartphone – you get the picture. The idea is that you are only communicating with God, so silence is optimum.

Pick an amount of time that works for you. At least an hour is a good start.

Read holy scriptures. This is essential. It is your choice as to how you interpret that.

Having a candle burning while you read can be useful.

Also, pick some non-reading activity. You can garden, paint, bead, or draw for instance. Just don’t do anything that is a “have-to” or an assignment. Do stuff that kind of distracts you enough to let God get a word in edgewise.

God can speak to us through anything. The trick is to give God space to talk to us. We spend so much time talking to God, we forget to pause long enough to listen. It is just like talking to a friend. You have to make space for your friend to answer.

For me, it is mandatory to have tea and cookies at the end.

Give thanks to God for the time that you were able to spend, and for any answers to prayers that you received.

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TMJ as a teacher.

I have TMJ problems. My jaw doesn’t line up properly. Overuse, and the ligaments in my neck hurt. The more I talk, the more pain I’m in. It isn’t a large pain. It isn’t terrible. But it is just annoying enough to keep me mindful.

I’ve become very conscious of everything I say. It is as if I have a bank account and I’m being careful of what I spend. Each sentence needs to be worthwhile.

I remember when a teacher in junior high had an assignment that we had to come up with a list of just twenty words. These were (hypothetically) the only words we would be allowed to say for the rest of our lives. This is something like that.

If it hurts to talk a lot, then you have to pick your words carefully or suffer the consequences. What do you have to say? What can be dropped?

This is totally in line with the Buddhist idea of right speech. Every word you say needs to be true, kind, and helpful. Is it necessary? Is it useful? Or is it mindless chatter, meant to fill up the silence? Is it gossip?

There is a great saying that “It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.” (Maurice Switzer)

There is a Ghandi quote as well that I’ve also heard attributed to the Quakers. “Speak only if it improves upon the silence.”

We are afraid of silence. We fill our houses and our heads with noise. We have iPods and cell phones attached to our ears constantly. Every store has music playing. The TV blaring on, all the time. When was the last time you were silent for longer than 20 minutes, and not asleep?

This disorder has become my teacher.